Aphrodite is in the house at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in a hair-raising erotically-charged production of David Ives’s Broadway hit, Venus in Fur. Natalie Dormer treads the boards as the feline Vanda Jordan, and David Oakes of Victoria fame has parked his Prince Ernest to reveal a magnetic Thomas Novachek with a knotty personality. Thankfully, his German accent only makes the briefest of appearances.
He put the Masoch in Masochism
‘Venus in Furs’ was originally an 1870s novel, written by Austrian Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Does that surname look familiar? That’s because the novel is the birthplace of sado-masochism (or at least the latter bit). David Ives adapted it into the play, Venus in Fur which had its New York premiere in 2010. In 2013, director Roman Polanski cast his wife, Emmanuelle Seigner as sexy Vanda Jordan into a stylish film adaptation.
Furs and Latex
But back to David Ives’s fiery version, set in New York. Meet David Oakes, a cocky writer/ director Novachek who is casting for his new play based on the Sacher-Masoch novel. He can’t find a suitable actress, is complaining on the phone about the stupidity of the girls he’s auditioned so far. He hates their high-pitched voices.
You don’t have to tell me about sado-masochism. I’m in the theatre.
Enter Natalie Dormer as Vanda Jordan. With a thick Brooklyn accent in tow, she is eager to please. She is desperate to read for the Vanda von Dunayev role (and yes, actress and character share the same forename). She’s late for the audition, complains about how some creepy guy was feeling her up on the subway. However, not all is what it seems. She claims to have skimmed the screenplay on her way over, but we discover it’s a well-thumbed copy. Jordan is wearing some kinky gear under her coat. She seems to know a lot about Novachek’s girlfriend, Stacy. And, and she seems more at ease with her English ‘audition’ accent than with her native Brooklyn accent.
In any event, Novachek isn’t convinced about her, and in an erotic game of the battle of the sexes, Jordan will persuade him that she’s perfect for the part. It’s not an easy role for the male counterpart, as it’s close to impossible to tear your eyes away from the intoxicating Natalie Dormer. But David Oakes pulls it off in this 90-minute smart, suspense-filled production, and as the story crashes around us in a flurry of thunder and lightning, there’s an operatic finale in store.
Venus in Fur is wickedly delicious. Wrap yourself up and get ready for some stage dynamite at the Theatre Royal Haymarket this autumn.
You can catch Venus in Fur at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. On until 9 December 2017
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